Alberta shows fire on ice

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

Cathy King has been waking up to the smell of smoke every morning this week. The culprit is likely another guest in the Hilton, but it could be a sign she's catching fire at the right time.

With much of the spotlight on other rinks so far at the Scott Tournament of Hearts, the Alberta skip has quietly fashioned a three-game winning streak to share the lead at 5-2 with Colleen Jones of Nova Scotia, Team Canada's Jennifer Jones and Kelly Scott of B.C.

"Sh, don't tell anybody," King said with a smile after a 7-0 win over Suzanne Gaudet of P.E.I. "We've still got some tough games coming up and we've got to play well when it really counts.

"I thought we played pretty strongly in that game, but it was more them not making their shots."

Both co-leaders had last night's and this morning's draw off, their first real break of the event.

"A break any time is welcome," said King, who beat Eve Belisle of Quebec 10-8 in the morning draw. "But it's not like I've been able to sleep in. I wake up every morning at 6 a.m. smelling cigarette smoke from the ventilation."

Colleen Jones had two tough wins yesterday, making a delicate tap for two (after a measurement) in the 10th to beat Jennifer Jones 7-6 in the morning, then holding off Tracy Streifel of Sask-atchewan 7-5 in the afternoon.

"I don't know if we're ever on the way to a laugher," Colleen Jones said.

"It seems everything we do goes to a nailbiter. But you never know, this could be our last Scott, so I guess we want to get as much mileage as we possible can out of it.

"I'm just glad this run is over. We've played three games in less than 24 hours and everyone on the team is worn out. But when you like the feel of the ice and you're in striking distance, you've got to feel good. You just have to get to the weekend and be brilliant then."

Jennifer Jones bounced back with a 7-6 night win over hard-luck Saskatchewan, scoring three in the 10th on a delicate tap-back.

"We had a few opportunities early on and we just missed them," she said. "This was a long day. We honestly never look at the standings, we just don't want to lose two in a row. If we can do that, we've got a good shot at making the playoffs."

Scott also rebounded from a loss -- in her case 8-5 in the afternoon to Ontario's Krista Scharf in which Scott missed her last shot -- to beat Janet Harvey of Manitoba 8-3 in their night game. Scott took five in the fifth when she rubbed a rock in the 12-foot but still managed to pick out the Manitoba counter.

"I wouldn't say we got the breaks earlier, so I don't feel bad about that one at all," she said. "But we've learned how to bounce back a lot this year. We're a solid group; we know what to do."

The gridlock at the top could have been even worse, but Belisle and Andrea Kelly of New Brunswick both lost night games to fall to 4-3. Belisle saw P.E.I. score three in the 10th for a 9-8 win, while Heather Strong of Newfoundland and Labrador made a routine draw for one in the 11th to beat Kelly 6-5 to also sit at 4-3.

"I'm sure we'll bounce back. We always do," Belisle said. "In our provincials we had to win our last five to do it. Maybe it's not our time here, but we'll give it our best shot."

Ontario and P.E.I. are both 3-4, Manitoba is 2-5 and Saskatchewan and Kerry Koe of the Territories are 1-6.

Against B.C., Scharf made a great long double raise for two in the ninth, made a draw behind cover with her last in the 10th and watched as Scott rubbed the guard.

"Every single game we've had has been a close one," said Scharf, who fell 10-7 to Manitoba in the morning, giving up a steal of three in the 10th. "But I found we were more relaxed today. We were getting sick of losing. It's stressful being on the verge of being out, so we just decided to go out and have fun."

Koe, meanwhile, was happy to finally get off the schneid, beating New Brunswick 9-4 in the afternoon for her first win after some tough losses earlier in the week.

"It's been tough because deep down we know we should have had a couple of wins already, but we haven't been playing like we know we can," she said.


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